the story behind the cake

the story behind the cake

My sister, Lori Ried, turned fifty this July. She is a dedicated Jo-Ann’s shopper, going to her local store at least once a week (in order to take advantage of the 40% off coupons she religiously clips). In our family, the traditional gift for Lori, be it birthday or Christmas or no-occasion, is a Jo-Ann’s gift card. There is nothing she treasures more than the ability to find the perfect bit of fabric for a project she is working on. Her sewing creations are numerous and varied: from baby blankets to quilts to heart-shaped pillows that help breast cancer patients avoid the pain of drip lines around their incisions. Lori channels her passion for helping people through her sewing and she gives almost all of her pieces away to family, friends and total strangers.


We have many inside jokes and traditions relative to Lori and Jo-Ann’s. A running jest in her family is that the store is bound to call the house if Lori doesn’t show up at least once a week! Another is that her husband always gave her gift cards in funny amounts, like 17 cents, just to see the look of surprise on her face when she went to use it.

Sadly, Lori’s husband, Jeff, died in January. She has been amazing the past six months – moving forward through grief and creating a new life for herself and their two college-age sons. She surprised everyone when she decided to throw a 50th birthday party at her health club; before this, she had solo-hosted only one other party, just a few weeks before! For me, the natural choice for her cake décor was a Jo-Ann’s gift card (to be revealed at the party). Freeport Bakery in Sacramento agreed to create the design after Jo-Ann’s gave permission (which they so graciously and willingly did when I called). The cake was a sour cream blackout knockout celebrating Lori’s love of chocolate; the bakery did a great job making it look like a real gift card, don’t you think?


Also real was the gift card we slipped into Lori’s slice of cake (Justin, channeling his Dad). The card was purchased in the amount of $19.63 to commemorate the year she was born. It brought tears to Lori’s eyes and we all felt Jeff’s presence in that moment. Though the Elk Grove weather was hot, the pool party was lovely and the guest of honor beamed throughout (especially since her best friend, Denise, gave her a “special” necklace to wear – 10 five-dollar Jo-Ann’s gift cards threaded on a ribbon!).



I hope you enjoy the story of how one of Jo-Ann’s all-time BEST customers got the cake of her dreams and how much we appreciate Jo-Ann’s corporation for allowing us to use the gift card design!

Kathy Besser and family